Table of Contents
- Ask yourself some hard questions
- What to look for when selecting a new system?
- How should I assess all the products & suppliers?
- What is the likely lifespan of a system?
- Does the company have recent client reviews?
- What employee clocking options are available?
- When should you expect to begin seeing a ROI?
- Ask about implementation & project management
- Ask about initial User training & ongoing support
- What information will I get it from the system?
How can a time and attendance system help you?
What is a Time and Attendance system: It’s a system used by companies of all sizes and types to record the working hours of employees. This type of system is also invaluable for ensuring compliance with workforce regulations regarding proof of attendance. A Time and Attendance system collects the data from clocking devices or a software program available through PCs, the internet or mobile phone. Clocking devices vary from swipe cards, proximity cards, proximity fobs and biometric terminals (fingerprints readers) or via the Internet on Smart Phones, Laptops and PCs.
How can you ensure that your organization selects the right system?
1. Ask yourself some hard questions
BEFORE YOU EVEN TALK TO ANY SUPPLIERS, THERE ARE QUESTIONS YOU SHOULD ASK YOURSELF.
What do we want a new Time and Attendance system to do for us? What are the things that we’re not doing well and how will they be done better with a Time and Attendance system?
Identify key areas for improvement
Identifying key areas for improvement will help you to set a realistic budget for your system, as you will have started to identify the business benefits you are aiming to achieve and the costs associated with them. All good software (and hardware) related investments should be self‐funded in the long run, so you should be clear from the outset of the Return on Investment (ROI) you are expecting.
2. What to look for when selecting a new time and attendance system?
What would be the best way for employees to access the system – at clocking‐in machines, online or maybe via a handheld device like a mobile phone? It could be that a combination of these would be most effective so this will help refine your supplier search to those companies who can accommodate this.
Does your business have any unusual quirks? Many firms have shift patterns or payment categories that are unique to them. Consider whether you are prepared to adapt the way you work to the system, or whether you would rather invest in a system that is adaptable to you? Levels of customization vary from system to system. Some systems can be easily customized by the user, others may need to go back to the developers ‐ which will incur additional costs – while towards the lower price end, it may not be possible to customize the system at all.
3. How should I assess all the products and suppliers?
Not all suppliers are the same
Full service companies have complete ownership of the software development process and the associated quality control. In the event of any issues with the software, their support team will have direct access to the staff that developed it. Re-sellers often have lower overheads, as they don’t need to support the costs of a development team. Arrangements can differ as to who supports the product after the sale.
Before you decide which type of supplier to choose it is worth considering the following:
Aftersales Support – is the company who sells the system going to provide the support or will it fall back to the developers? How are support staff trained on the system and how is their knowledge kept up to date? Do they only support one type or brand of system, or systems from lots of different suppliers?
Development – who is responsible for making changes to the system, either to provide new functionality or to correct problems? You need to establish clearly who your point of contact will be and what service levels you can expect. If you opt for a company with an in-house development team it is still worth checking that they can make system amendments within a reasonable time scale.
4. What is the likely lifespan of a system?
Time and Attendance, like all software, will go out of date over time. Changes will need to be made to reflect updated legislation and new technology. When choosing a supplier, consider how they handle system upgrades as this can impact considerably on both the useful life of the system and the total cost of ownership.
A good supplier should keep your system current by sending out version updates or allowing you to download them, but costs can vary. Check what level of support is available to assist you in making more complex updates and what the cost would be.
A word of warning: some companies place their customers on contracts that oblige them to pay for system upgrades after a certain period, increasing the cost of ownership. Whilst all companies must make old versions of software eventually obsolete, some withdraw support much sooner than others. Check that the choice to upgrade will be yours and not that of the supplier.
5. Does the company have any previous client reference?
Below are some of Advance Systems previous client testimonials for review.
Vote of confidence
“I look forward to a continuing relationship with Advance Systems. We cannot thank you enough for making the whole process streamlined and easy to use. Their professional approach more than earned my vote of confidence.”
Great product and service
“With close to 1,000 employees and 19 locations, Advance Systems is providing us with a solution to maintain a consistent time keeping system. We also love the database piece as we have data in many platforms at our different locations.”
6. What clocking options are available with the time and attendance system?
At the core of any time and attendance system is the means by which employees register their activity.
7. When should you expect to begin seeing a Return on your Investment?
Ask how the ROI was calculated and satisfy yourself that it is realistic for an organization of your size, paying a similar average salary, in a similar sector. It should also be possible to speak to existing customers in your sector to confirm the potential savings.
One of the factors in your decision to implement a new Time and Attendance system is the desire to see a measurable benefit to your business. Perhaps you are looking to reduce overpayment, free up a number of hours for your payroll team or reduce absence. Many suppliers can give you an indication of the return on investment you can expect based on their experience with previous customers.
8. Ask about implementation and project management
To get the best from a larger system you will need to be prepared to spend some time working with the company to define how you would like the system set up.
Some companies are able to do much of the set up for you right through to setting up records and inputting data, while others will expect you to handle this yourselves. If you are looking to get a system in to a tight timescale, or you only have limited resource, it could be worth seeking out a supplier who can offer a turnkey solution, getting the system fully set up with minimum time commitment from you.
9. Ask about initial user training and ongoing support
If you are looking to buy anything more than a straightforward clocking system, you will almost certainly benefit from some training to help you get the best from your new system.
It is worth investigating whether your preferred suppliers can provide the different levels of training you need. Some companies will even train your own training team so you can handle the rollout to employees yourself. This is a very cost effective option if you are looking to train a large number of people over a number of sites. Take into account that people move on in all companies; investigate how a supplier would help you train a new user or give refresher training.
10. What information will I get from the system?
Ask your prospective supplier to show you their standard reports and to demonstrate how unique reports can be created.
No doubt one of the most powerful reasons for investing in a Time and Attendance system is the information it will provide about where your company’s payroll bill goes. These reports can form the basis of programs to reduce absence, allocate shifts more effectively, manage flexible working or reduce a reliance on overtime. However the reporting suite can also be the Achilles heel of some systems, making it time consuming and difficult to extract meaningful information out of the reams of data you collect.